Saturday, January 21, 2012

Five Years Ago Today...

Life as we knew it changed forever. We woke up in the morning to a little girl who was in the middle of an adrenal crisis: blue, postured, lifeless eyes staring straight ahead--it's a memory that I would like to forget, but never will.

What do you do when the future you envisioned suddenly changes?

For us, we desperately wanted to return to how things used to be. We prayed for Annie to be completely healed. We worked hard to help her recover her lost functions of eating, walking, talking, thinking. And over the next four years, she did make progress, but never walked independently again, never held our hand again, never sang a song again and never said Mommy again.

Sometimes the future you envisioned disappears, and a new reality takes its place. It often isn't something you embrace--you want to run away from it. You want what used to be. But it's gone and will never come back.

What do you do?

There's a story in the Bible of the wise man and foolish man. The wise man built his house upon the rock. The foolish man built his house on the sand. The wind beat down on both of them. The wise man's house stood. The foolish man's house collapsed.

Winds blow. Times of testing, illness, job loss, death--bad things happen to us all. Annie's brain injury was absolutely the worst thing we'd ever faced. But because Jesus is our Rock, He was underneath us, holding us together when our world fell apart.

Over many long months, we ever so slowly began to appreciate things Annie could do, rather than continue mourning the things she couldn't do. We began enjoying quiet times snuggling with Annie while reading Brown Bear--for the tenth time that day. Walks around the neighborhood while she looked at the trees and dogs and cars driving by. We looked for ways she could enjoy this new life, the one with very restricted boundaries.

We made new friends. New doctors, new therapists, new teachers, new nurses. New little friends who couldn't walk so well or who didn't talk or had seizures--just like Annie. We became members of a new community of parents who spoke our language of AFO's, IEPs, g-tubes, seizure meds, and XL pull-ups. It wasn't a community any of us would have volunteered to join, but since we had all been drafted, we were a team. A family. We had each other's backs.

Then the life we had adjusted to and came to appreciate abruptly ended.

When Annie died, there were no more "yo-ees," no more snuggle times with Daddy while watching the Packers, no more walks around the neighborhood with Jack, reading times with Olivia, morning-getting-ready-for-school times with David. No more Sunday School. No more bedtime prayers.

Now, each time we think about all that we've lost, we also remember all that Annie has gained. It is the only thing that comforts us. We know she is well and able again to walk, talk, eat, and sing, and we try to focus on the day when we again hear her say "Mommy! Daddy!" So we don't grieve as those who have no hope--but we do grieve.

In looking back on this day, five years ago, the future we envisioned was obliterated, and in it's place God brought something else. Sometimes what we're assuming our future to be changes drastically and suddenly. What do we do when that happens? What do you do?


Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter,
you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth
you will again bring me up. Psalm 71:20


Marilyn said...

What a testimony! Thinking of Annie's anniversary yesterday and praying for you. Remembering when I got the call that it had happened and not having any idea the road you were about to walk~

Anonymous said...

I am very glad that you shared this with us, it reminds us that life is very short.

Jean said...

Marilyn--yes, I heard recently that "biography" is about what you've done, and "testimony" is about what Jesus has done. That's what I want this blog to be about--what He has done.

Anon--Thanks--you are so is short. We should live each day ready to meet Jesus, right?

Gretchen said...

What do I do? I look to others who have walked the lonely road ahead of me, and together, we become not-as-lonely. And I both cling to and bless God for the redemption of any "bad" day--whether He's redeeming one of my days when I seek help from another, or redeeming another's day when I help her/him.

Praying for you all.

The Klassen's said...

Praying for your family...the sadness and loss you've experienced breaks my heart. bless you XOXOXOXOXOX

Jean said...

Thanks, Tanis. And thanks so much for your prayers. We feel them!

Rebecca said...

I was starting to pack for California, when I started thinking about Annie...I thought I'd read and catch up (way more fun that packing)...too much is going on right now, but this post strikes a cord big time, and is very needed...Thank you for continuing to share about the ups and downs..